flowers Weather

September 29, 2014 … in search of simplicity

Tomorrow, I get to talk to a bunch of people about something to which I still don’t know the answer.

Blue flower
Why do I make pictures of things like this? Because I enjoy how it looks in print or on the screen. I have no clue what it is.

Why do I make images. Note the careful phrase “make images”. Even if I use the words, I don’t believe in “taking pictures”. I use whatever means I can to create something that pleases me. Often I find that others to whom I show my images don’t like some of them as much as I do. I get a goodly share of positive feedback for which I am always grateful, but it is still something of a lottery for me. If I didn’t make so many images I would have far fewer successful ones. A friend (she knows who she is) made a lovely image of an unopened poppy bud the other day. It was green against a green background and was breathtaking in its simplicity and beauty. Sometimes I have to work very hard to point myself in the direction of that simplicity.

Red and yellow
These at least, I can identify as tulips

When I talk to the group tomorrow, one of my messages will be the importance of what gets left out of the picture. Sometimes a fragment of a scene conveys more than the wide view. Yesterday there was persistent light drizzle, so I got the idea that the annual tulip festival in the Botanic Gardens might respond well to being photographed in the rain and might even allow me to make a few images.

More red and yellow
Despite the damage by weather and fungus, there were some significant blocks of colour

To my shock and disappointment, there were some large patches of bare earth. Some kind of fungal infection had invaded some of the tulip beds and they had to be cleared away, so it became even more necessary to concentrate on detail rather than the broad scene.

White tulips
Ragged edges were interesting

One particular variety of white tulip had distinctive ragged edges to its petals and I though them worth a closer look. Though I have done them, I am not a wedding photographer. This was a little like shooting the bridal dress, and required a lot of care to expose for detail as well as the natural brilliance of the flower.

Wet poppy

The gardens are fairly traditional, with formally laid out blocks of particular flowers and blocks of colour. As well as the tulips, there were poppies, though the gales that had blasted through the night before had made a mess of the fragile flowers. A few had survived, or perhaps they had opened afterwards, but again the idea of using a detail to represent the whole came to the fore.


Despite the dismal weather, a lot of people were wandering though the gardens, moved as I was by the simplicity of the thing. I must remember to keep coming back for it.

Thanks to the kind people who sent supportive messages after the thousandth edition.

Birds Children flowers Forest Rimutaka Forest park

September 28, 2104 … one thousand days and a new kiwi

This is the 1,000th edition of this blog.

Spring colour at the hospice

At an average of about 600 words a day, that’s an awful lot of writing. Though the blog lacks the intellectual rigour of my doctoral thesis, there is a certain sting in the awareness that it has taken less than one third of the time to write six times as many words. Never mind, that’s all ancient history now, so I can continue to enjoy the things I see every day and the images I make of them. Yesterday Mary and I went to a function at Te Omanga Hospice with our lovely granddaughter, Maggie. The magnolia and kowhai trees in the driveway presented a spectacle before we even got there.

Maggie and the egg
Maggie with a kiwi’s monstrous egg.

The occasion was a fundraising event at which a hand-raised Brown Kiwi chick was to be named and released into the wild.  While we were waiting, there were several artefacts on display including some stuffed specimens and a kiwi egg. As you can see from the one Maggie is holding, the kiwi earns its reputation for the largest egg in proportion to body size.

With his minder from the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, Kumanu meets his admiring audience for the first and last time

The winning name chosen in public competition for the ten-month-old kiwi was “Kumanu”  which I understand translates as “cherish.” A wireless transmitter was attached to Kumanu’s upper thigh and he was then blessed in accordance with both the Maori and Christian tradition.

Kereru – the native wood pigeon

From the hospice, a small number of us went out to Wainuiomata and  to the entrance to the Whakanui Track in the Rimutaka Forest Park. Some very well fed New Zealand Native Wood Pigeons were at the entrance to the trail, perched in a eucalyptus at the gate.

On the track
With Kumanu in his carry-box, Maggie leads the way up the start of the four-hour trek into the bush. Of course the stalwart workers and volunteers from the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust are doing the very long part of the walk.

We then set out to launch Kumanu on his new career as a self-sustaining with his own desirable residence with high views over desirable bushland. To her very great delight, Maggie was entrusted with carrying the precious bundle in his carrying box for at least part of the track . It was a memorable day for all of us.

Thanks to all of you who have sent messages of affirmation and support in the course of the last thousand episodes.


Birds Forest Landscapes Plant life Silverstream

September 27, 2014 … wandering in the park

Yesterday I visited a friend in the upper valley.

Barton's Bush
Barton’s Bush in Heretaunga Trentham MemorialPark, Silverstream

On the way home, I diverted by way of Heretaunga Trentham Memorial Park. In the middle of the park is Barton’s bush, a lovely dense patch of native trees. The only downside to me was that all the paths were fenced off so that you couldn’t enter the bush itself. It’s just not the New Zealand way to put fences around public bush, and is as alien here as a  “keep off the grass” sign. Ugh!

More bush
Dense growth in Barton’s Bush

Despite my dislike for the fences, there is some healthy bush and it was otherwise a pleasure to wander through.

On the river side of the stopbank, Silverstream

On the Western side of the bush, there is the stop bank which separates the affluent housing nearby from the river when it shows sign of flooding. The open land on either side of the bank is well used for all kinds of recreation as makes a pleasant landscape in its own right.

Partially pigmented blackbird

My last shot in this, the 999th edition of this blog, is of a bird that baffled me. Eventually I received advice that it is simply a blackbird with leucism, or a lack of pigmentation.  Well I thought it was interesting

That’s all for now.

Art Birds harbour Light Lower Hutt Weather Wellington

September 26, 2014 … a change in the course of the day

I expected to spend the next two days as a pedestrian.

Morning haze in the Hutt Valley

Accordingly I walked down to my optometrist for a slightly overdue checkup. On the way, I enjoyed the morning light laying haze on the Eastern hills.

Southward through the heads

To the South, the view was slightly clearer and from Normandale Road, it looked like the beginning of a perfect day.

Arguably, a wasted talent

In the valley I was looking back up towards home, and this mural leapt out at me. I am not enthusiastic about any form of graffiti, buy I have to concede that there is some real talent here. Perhaps not high art, but real talent nonetheless.

Herons in concealment

While I was leaping through optical hoops, my phone rang. Of course, I ignored it until it was all over, but it seemed that my panel beater couldn’t repair the tailgate on the wagon, and had to send away for a new one. OK, so I had my car back for a few days. Well, it was high tide and a fine morning though the wind was increasing, so out to Pauatahanui. Apart from a few herons it seemed quiet there.

Skylark hopping along

Skylarks are the birds I am most likely to encounter at Whitireia Park and sure enough, I had just parked when one came hopping towards my door.

That’s all for now.

adversity Cars flowers Landscapes Lower Hutt Plant life

September 25, 2014 … using the two-foot zoom*

My car has been in dock.

New fronds unfurl from the crown of the ponga

My assertion is that I was rammed in the rear by a speeding fence-post. Anyway, though I had a couple of generous offers of help, I was temporarily a pedestrian. This has two results. First, I carry less equipment, and second, I tend to see more at the close-up level. Sometimes the things I see when I am on foot are ordinary, but they are not as I see them from the car. This simple Ponga tree, for example, has a presence as a foreground to the valley below.

Golden elm
Golden elm at the Hutt Memorial Library

Walking back from having coffee with a similarly immobilised friend, I passed the War Memorial Library on Queens Drive, Lower Hutt. In the library grounds are three or four of my favourite trees, the golden elm. They reach a climax in mid to late spring when the new season’s leaves seem to transition from flowers to leaves, and their pale green-gold colour defies description. This one is on its way.

Ironing board
In case your shirt is creased

There are contrasts, and as I trudged up Normandale Rd and over the bridge, an ironing board, minus its covers, stood incongruously in a car park and demanded attention.

Yet to be identified tree

Carrying a camera allows me to disguise my pauses for breath as if they were scientific or artistic explorations of some startling new phenomena. I have no idea what this particular tree is, but the contrast between it and the dark background allowed me to make a picture.

Broom in full golden coat

Much of the hillside is covered in yellow. It is the season for kowhai, gorse and broom. All three of them apply a heavy coat of yellow to the hills around the city. The Gorse is a pain if you get too close, but the broom is bright, and is everywhere.

Lower Hutt CBD
Lower Hutt from Normandale

My last shot for the day, as I was plodding steadily up the hill, was a look over the rail and the bush down to the central shopping area of Lower Hutt. It has changed little in recent years, but has been home for us since 1980.

That’s all for now.

*”two-foot zoom” … photographer’s slang for using your feet to get closer




Animals flowers Wainuiomata

September 24, 2014 … another rural excursion

This is such a small city that you need not go far to find yourself in the country.

Lop-eared kid

My choice yesterday was the coast road through Wainuiomata, just ten minutes from home. The sun was still shining though there was a stiff wind. A bunch of kids (of the goat kind) were enjoying themselves, but this one’s asymmetric  ears appealed to me.

Glorious anarchy

Near the coast, speaking of eccentricity, there is a farm that looks almost as chaotic as my office. Most of you are probably too young to recall a series of movies about Ma and Pa Kettle but for some reason my thoughts wandered back to Saturday afternoon movies when admission was 9d (less than 10 cents). Perhaps the Beverley Hillbillies is a nearer comparison. The immensity of the pig in this shot was what attracted me to the scene.


The coast was uninteresting on this occasion, so I came back and saw these lambs engaged in very vigorous play .

More lambs
Keeping close

Nothing serious though since they seemed to enjoy each other’s company.

Roadside daffodils

My last shot is to celebrate the fact that yesterday was the vernal equinox and by now it is truly spring here. Nothing says spring quite like lambs and daffodils, so here are the daffodils.

That’s it for today.


Airport Cook Strait Lyall Bay South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

September 23, 2014 … Southerly gale

Wild winds attacked much of the country yesterday.

The Southern end of the airport runway disappears under water

A Southerly shrieking up to 120 km/h hurled solid walls of water at the South coast, so of course it was the place I had to go. I began in Lyall Bay where great waves shattered themselves against the South wall of the airport and blasted downwind. The larger planes were still operating though the landings looked hairy and the take-offs were spectacularly steep.

Long waves
Long and slow, and deeply moving

For some reason, I am intensely moved by big waves where the crests are far apart. Memories of Physics 101  and discussions of wavelength and amplitude come to mind, but mostly it is the sheer majesty of all that energy being transmitted through the water.

Big waves
Full frontal

Seeing the same seas from head on is equally impressive. The ponderous weight heading straight at you is quite impressive, especially when it’s green like this.

In shelter
“thy sea is so great and my boat is so small”

I had lunch at a little cafe in Island Bay and watched the waves roll in, and the poor little fishing boats wrenching at their moorings despite being in the lee of Taputeranga Island.  In the last storm one of them washed ashore  and the road had to be closed while a large crane lifted it clear.

Across the harbour entrance

My last shot is from Moa Point across Tarakena Bay and Palmer Head and over the harbour entrance to the lower and upper lights at Pencarrow.

And just like that, it ended.

adversity Birds Zealandia

september 22, 2014 … red in tooth and claw*

We had a nice lunch at the on-site cafe and then strolled the paths at Zealandia.

Mother duck hurls herself at the much bigger and better armed shag enabling the duckling to scuttle off to the lower right

On the lower dam, there are nesting shags, as well as many other birds including ducks with their young. Though their diet seems to be mainly fish, the shag’s beak is a fearsome weapon, and a duckling is a bite-sized morsel. I spotted a shag gathering nesting material that got diverted by a very small fluffy snack swimming near its mother. The shag made a determined dive for the duckling but was then forced to defend itself against the enraged mother who leapt to the defense/ The duckling scooted to the comparative safety of some overhanging trees.

Red-crowned parakeet eating

In the upper part of the reserve, we were shown some kakariki (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae – the New Zealand parakeet) which were having a great time nibbling from the feeding station.

Stitchbird at rest

Higher still, I encountered this cheery little hihi or stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta) . They seem accustomed to human presence and flitted about happily though it was hard to catch them as the are very fast and erratic movers.

Kaka eating a duck egg

On the way back down the path to the exit, I found this kaka (Nestor meridionalis). It is the lowland cousin of the notorious alpine parrot, the kea, and tends to be more brown than the green of the mountain bird. This one was engaged in lunching on an egg stolen from some nearby mallard ducks.

Fewer feathers tomorrow


* In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson

adversity Birds flowers Hutt River Lower Hutt Maritime Seaview Weather

September 21, 2014 … unceasing dampness

I did warn you that things might be a bit drab.

Kowhai season sees a lot of intoxicated tuis

The drizzle continued, and I had half an eye on an equally grey election. When I did get out and about, I found little inspiration. Yet another tui drinking nectar from rain-soaked kowhai trees. I had to shoot quickly because I left my storm jacket at home.

The different shapes and textures appealed to me

Then it was to the marina at Seaview. No really new ideas emerged so I did a subset of an old idea, up at the commercial end of the marina where the working boats live.

Hutt river
Thundering water at the weir

My final shot after a largely fruitless drive was at the weir again. There had been a lot of rain and the water level was quite high.

I hope for better outcomes tomorrow.

adversity Cook Strait Maritime South Coast Weather Wellington

September 20, 2014 … in the wind and rain

I am sorry to say that today and tomorrow may provide lean pickings.

“… but we can still rise now”*

On Friday I wandered around the harbour as usual. Wet, windy and grey. The only splash of colour was the blue and white saltire of Scotland flown from the masthead of a yacht moored in Evans Bay. It’s owner was undoubtedly downcast later in the day.

Aratere stays well clear of the rocks

Out on the rocks at Palmer Head, the wind was really whistling and it was hard to find shelter from which to see the Aratere coming in from Picton.

The reef
Approach at your peril

Applying the “look behind” rule, the vicious rocks at the Northern end of Barrett’s Reef contrasted with the blue and white of the wind-whipped water in Breaker bay.

Sorry for the late posting.

* “flower of Scotland”